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VRE CEO Zehner to retire in June


Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Chief Executive Officer Dale Zehner has announced plans to retire June 30.

Zehner joined VRE in May 1995 after a career as U.S. Navy captain. Initially hired as VRE’s manager of budget and finance, he later assumed duties as director of planning, customer service, marketing and public affairs before becoming chief of staff in 2001.

In August 2003, Zehner was appointed acting chief operating officer. He became the agency’s first chief executive officer in May 2004.

Zehner introduced a customer-centric philosophy that has become the hallmark of VRE, agency officials said in a prepared statement. During his tenure, he implemented numerous fiscal efficiencies and advanced projects that shaped VRE’s future, including the acquisition of new rail cars and locomotives, a new rail services operator and growing the service’s core business during difficult times, they said.

“In these rough economic times, the VRE Operations Board and management team have brought stability and credibility to VRE by making every dollar count, delivering on a promise to complete capital projects on time and under budget, and refusing to settle for anything less than world-class service for our riders,” said Zehner.

As CEO, Zehner oversaw unprecedented system growth: In 2002, VRE averaged 9,800 daily trips; last year, VRE served an average daily ridership of more than 19,100. Also during his tenure, on-time performance levels reached the high 90s.

“Mr. Zehner was deeply committed to achieving excellence in our daily operation while also maintaining the concept that we should not sacrifice first-rate service for our customers,” said VRE Chairman Wally Covington.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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